A CLAIMANT failed to declare she was living with her landlord while receiving benefits, a court was told.

As a result, Lisa Cowcher illegally received Jobseeker’s Allowance, which changed to Employment and Support Allowance, as well as Housing Benefit, totalling £11,164, over about two years until late in 2018.

Durham Crown Court heard that evidence from the tenancy agreement, on her rented home in Sherburn Hill, indicated her claim was fraudulent from the outset.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said investigators discovered her partner paid utility bills and satellite tv payments for the address, in South View, while there was evidence of holidays together in Cape Verde and New York.

The 45-year-old defendant admitted three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain.

Mr Soppitt said she committed two similar offences a decade ago, when she failed to declare she was working as a barmaid while claiming benefits, for which she received a community order.

Paul Cross, mitigating, said the latest offences were committed at a time she had difficulties in her life and was struggling with debts, while, in the early days of the relationship, it was not clear how strongly it would develop.

Recorder Ian Atherton imposed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which she will be subject to a community order, including 120-hours’ unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days.

She must also pay £10 compensation per week, over the two years, plus £300 costs.